Students react to Lehrmann finding

Deakin University students are either highly critical, unaware of or confused about the role the media played in the Bruce Lehrmann defamation case.

Photo: Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0

Earlier this week, Lehrmann lost a defamation case against Network 10 and journalist Lisa Wilkinson, in which he claimed their story identified him as raping Brittany Higgins in Parliament House in March 2019, despite not mentioning him by name.

However, Justice Michael Lee found that, on the balance of probabilities, Lehrmann had raped Brittany Higgins, so Ten’s defence of truth was successful.

Lee was critical of the media and its role in the story, saying Ten should have investigated Higgins’ story more thoroughly and describing Wilkinson’s Logies Speech – which caused a delay in Lehrmann’s criminal trial – as “grossly improper an unjustifiable”.

Students at Deakin University’s Burwood campus told our Dscribe reporters they believed media outlets showed bias during the coverage of the case.

“Journalists are twisting the way they are reporting on this,” Rachel Lloyd-Owens said.

“It’s kind of hard to know what’s fact, but I’ve always thought (Lehrmann) was guilty based off what I’ve seen.”

Student Mia Timothy said the way journalists add information to stories can create bias.

“I think when they (journalists) give backstories … and try and get sympathy, that can change the severity of what they did,” she said.

Lee Martin agreed, saying the use of “positive and negative adjectives” can influence the public’s opinion.

Alistair Hood was critical of the media companies’ role.

“A media company is always going to have an end bias and that can skew the report,” he said.

Students also mentioned a lack of awareness surrounding the Lehrmann trial, or a sense of disinterest.

One Dscribe reporter asked four Deakin students on the Burwood campus to comment on the issue, however all said they knew nothing about Bruce Lehrmann or the defamation case itself, with one replying “no, not off the top of my head”.

Jamie Hall said the length of the case had caused them to disengage with the topic altogether.

“It’s been going on for so long I’ve become a bit numb to it all,” they said.


  • This story was produced by Bonnie Collings, Ruby Sait, Tash Hortis, Jake Beddard, Chris Kourtis, Lukas Harry, Shaelyn Harris, Caitlin Laing and Anupaja Mallawarachchi


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About Dscribe

Dscribe showcases the work of Deakin University’s journalism students. The opinions contained in Dscribe stories are that of the individual, and not Deakin University. If you believe that any of the material on this website infringes on your rights, click here: COPYRIGHT